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Old 02-03-2006, 08:22 PM   #1
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Hypothetical....How Do I Inspect a Used trailer for Floor Rot prior to making an Offe

..............For Instance...Let's say that there is a 1992 Limited in my local area that I'm very interested in and want to possibly make an offer on , But I need to Inspect the unit , especially the flooring Before I make an Offer. So , HOW do I accomplish this , without removing a section of the floor and visually inspecting the subfloor with a flashlight ?? thanks , r66
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:29 PM   #2
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I looked at a trailer that the floor was soft. You could feel it when you walked on it. It was soft under every vent and by the front door. To check for lesser rot, you could use an ice pick to press into the wood. I did not need to do this on the trailer I rejected .
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:29 PM   #3
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What would make you think that there's floor rot in a 1992? Generally there won't be floor rot unless there are some signs that there is some kind of leak that would lead to floor rot. Careful visual inspection will generally lead to a pretty good assessment of whether or not you need to check further. I'd also check around the tub and stool for signs of leaks as well as under the sink. Check the window and door seals. Generally a long-term leak at the door will cause a soft spot there.

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Old 02-03-2006, 09:04 PM   #4
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Try an ice pick (though punch sort of lightly). Work near the main cabin door, under all windows, under hatch covers, and around the toilet. Also take a physical look in all cabinets where you might be able to see flooring anyway.


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Old 02-03-2006, 09:06 PM   #5
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Hypothetical ?

Are you imagining a possible senario and encounter with a nearly new unit with hideous rot consuming the secret recesses of the unknown ?

Or....

Are you asking advice on how to inspect for quality in a unit that you don't have confidence in, not because of it's age (unlikely you would find severe rot in a young coach) but because the seller pricks suspision in you ?
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Old 02-04-2006, 11:08 AM   #6
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I know of a friends 2002 safari that had rot in the rear......

try to inspect the perimeter edge of the floor in the storage compartments and at the floor edge under the windows. He had no idea there was rot, until he pulled up the carpet. He bought the unit new and maintained it well. There was a leak in one of his hatch seals.
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Old 02-04-2006, 11:26 AM   #7
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I use an ice pick right near where the floor meets the wall in front of the door. This is one of the first places that it is noticeable.
If the ice pick goes into what feels spongy it at least has the start of floor rot.
You can also check the same place on the street side of the trailer. This type of leakage is found right where the "nose cone" meets up with what Airstream has aptly named "Rib 0 (zero)". This is the first rib that makes up the aluminum superstructure of the frame.
Quote:
Originally Posted by route66
..............For Instance...Let's say that there is a 1992 Limited in my local area that I'm very interested in and want to possibly make an offer on , But I need to Inspect the unit , especially the flooring Before I make an Offer. So , HOW do I accomplish this , without removing a section of the floor and visually inspecting the subfloor with a flashlight ?? thanks , r66
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Old 02-04-2006, 11:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by route66
..............For Instance...Let's say that there is a 1992 Limited in my local area that I'm very interested in and want to possibly make an offer on , But I need to Inspect the unit , especially the flooring Before I make an Offer. So , HOW do I accomplish this , without removing a section of the floor and visually inspecting the subfloor with a flashlight ?? thanks , r66
Look on the belly pan for signs of corrosion and leaks, rivets will have stains around them, water streaks, etc. All of these are signs of something that bears further investigation. Also use your nose, it there is any kind of musty/moldy smell, suspect leaks.

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Old 02-04-2006, 11:32 AM   #9
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When I first read this I got the year of the coach wrong. I thought it was newer. As it turns out, it does no take that long for floors to rot. I have a 32 year old coach that only had rot near a leak in the black tank in the rear and little spot in the front. As suggested, I took an ice pick on my inspection and a flash light. I crawled into spaces I had not business getting into (from a chiropractic perspective). The coach had loose VCT tiles along the edge and I tested the entire perameter. The owner was OK with taking up some tiles that were secured since the flooring obviously had outlived its usefullness. Carpet might be harder if the owner did not want you to pull it up.

I wonder if using a wood moisture meter would be helpful. I mean, if you did not have the permission necessary to remove carpets or tiles or sheet vinyl etc. around the perimeter to see if the floor below was punky, the meter would help identify the wet areas if you could punch the probes into the edges. You would establish a moisture "baseline" what would be considered normal somewhere in the middle or under cabinets (this time of year, it would be different than the summer), but then any really wet areas would spike the meter. I have one but maybe one could be rented or borrowed...

Just a thought
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Old 02-04-2006, 07:49 PM   #10
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.............I choose this particular subject because it has the potential to occur in any coach regardless of year and other than steping on an Obviously weak floor can be a bugger to detect unless invasive techniques are utilized .
.............My operative consideration is "cavet emptor" for problems associated with floor rot due to the significant amount of $$ necessary to repair an otherwise sturdy , used coach . And , if detected , adjustments by the owner should be forthcoming assuming that the potential buyer wants to purchase the coach at a reduced value given what the cost of repairs that would be incurred by the buyer . I am very much in the learning phase here as I'm very smitten with these trailers and want to be somewhat knowledgeable when I visit an owner trying to sell his coach . Thanks to all who gave freely with your knowledge and experience and I'm looking foreward to more comments on this subject . r66
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Old 02-04-2006, 08:03 PM   #11
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Floor Rot

I discovered floor rot in the left rear corner of my 97 Excella when I gutted it to install laminate flooring. Problem is I discovered evidence of other leaks. I had to remove the front of my shower stall in order to completely remove the carpeting from under the shower and make certain the floor was sound.

Now (if the weather will cooperate) I need to recaulk the exterior of my trailer in order to seal the leaks I have found. Then I'll repair the floor and start the rehab.
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Old 02-05-2006, 07:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyJames
..... As suggested, I took an ice pick on my inspection and a flash light. I crawled into spaces I had not business getting into (from a chiropractic perspective)......I wonder if using a wood moisture meter would be helpful.
Good for you on the inspection - having "been there and done that" I can say that the best inspection tool is to beg, borrow, or rent a Forum member who has done a proper repair on a frame/floor/shell interface.

A good inspection, without removing any screws, should take at least 2 hours - many areas can be accessed by removing drawers, mattresses, coverings under storage areas, etc...all takes time - don't forget to check the operation of all lights, appliances, and propane devices while you are at it.

I would have to nix the use of a moisture meter - the rot at both the front and rear ends of my '78 Sovereign was classic "dry rot" - obviously it was caused by moisture, but the wood (and rot) was absolutely dry at the time of repair.

The first pic was just about all of any damage that could be seen by only removing the mattress and mattress support panel (driver side rear twin).

The second pic is of the "dry rotted" wood - the piece of wood you are looking at is only about 6 inches deep - almost all of the rotted area was under the "U" channel, and the hidden rot really bothered me, as it is the joining area of the "monocoque" design, and the wood at the joining areas of the frame, the shell, and the floor is the most important for overall strength.

The third pic is actual area of repair along the rear of the trailer.
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Old 02-05-2006, 07:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyJames
I wonder if using a wood moisture meter would be helpful. I mean, if you did not have the permission necessary to remove carpets or tiles or sheet vinyl etc. around the perimeter to see if the floor below was punky, the meter would help identify the wet areas if you could punch the probes into the edges. You would establish a moisture "baseline" what would be considered normal somewhere in the middle or under cabinets (this time of year, it would be different than the summer), but then any really wet areas would spike the meter. I have one but maybe one could be rented or borrowed...

Just a thought
Good idea Jim, especially if you inspect the unit just after a heavy rain. I notice you are in the NW...do moisture meters work out there I have inspected several units just after heavy rains or during rain storms. Brought out some interersting things that I would not have seen if it had been dry. It definitely added to the knowledge bank on how Airstreams can leak and where.

Aaron
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Old 02-07-2006, 09:18 PM   #14
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Another Hypothetical

I also have a hypothetical inspection question. I am in the market for a vintage airstream, and inspection of the floor seems pretty straightforward to me. And while it sounds like a huge pain to fix, it also seems like a rotted floor is indicative of more sinister problems, leaks in general and a potentially rusted-through frame.

So I guess my hypothetical inspection question is this If the belly pan is on and has no holes, how do you tell what sort of shape the frame is in? Or do you just make an educated guess based on the condition of the belly pan and the floor?

Thanks in advance for the advice....
Nicole
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